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As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school, which bases its tenets on the doctrines laid out in the Brahma Sutras, a work by the sage Vyasa which summarizes and systematizes the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads. (You can read the Brahma Sutras here.) But the Vedanta school didn't always have the dominant position in Hindu philosophy; before the time of Adi Shankaracharya the dominant school of Hindu philosophy was the Purva Mimamsa school, which I discuss here. In contrast to the Vedanta school which is devoted to analyzing the Jnana Kanda of the Vedas, i.e. the Upanishads, Purva Mimamsa focuses on analyzing the Karma Kanda of the Vedas, i.e. the Samhitas and Brahmanas.

Now as I discuss in this question, the Purva Mimamsa school believed that Upanishad verses describing the nature of the Atma refer to the Jivatma or individual soul, not Paramatma or the supreme soul. The Purva Mimamsa philosopher Kumarila Bhatta believed that Atmavidya or knowledge of one's own soul served three purposes: it was useful in performing Yagnas, it caused happiness in this life, and it led to Moksha by leading to Nishkama Karma (as I discuss here). Here's what Kumarila Bhatta says in this excerpt from his Tantra Vartika:

As for the knowledge of Self; both by Conjunction and Disjunction it is found to help the sacrifice as well as the Person; because unless are knows his self (to be something other than the body that perishes) he would never underfake the sacrifices whose results are said to accrue to the man in another birth. And then again, such passages as-' the Self free from all evil...is to be song.ht after, &c.,” “one should worship the Self" -lay down the knowledge of Self as accomplished by a process accompanied by due reflection, &c.; and then from such knowledge, we find that there accrues to the agents both kinds of result-Happiness as well as final Deliverance, as is shown by the following passages:-"He obtains all worlds and all desires, passes beyond all sorrow, &c, &c.,"-which speaks of all the eight perfections of Yoga accruing to the person knowing the self; and the passage-“passing his life thus he, after death, reaches the regions of Brahma, and from there he never returns'--which points to the attainment of the Supreme Self (Final Deliverance) also as following from a due knowledge of the Self.

I'm interested in the part in bold. I think Kumarila Bhatta is referring to verse 1 of Prapathaka 8 Khanda 7 of the Chandogya Upanishad:

ya ātmāpahatapāpmā vijaro vimṛtyurviśoko
vijighatso'pipāsaḥ satyakāmaḥ satyasaṃkalpaḥ so'nveṣṭavyaḥ
sa vijijñāsitavyaḥ sa sarvām̐śca lokānāpnoti
sarvām̐śca kāmānyastamātmānamanuvidya vijānātīti ha
prajāpatiruvāca ॥

Pragâpati said: 'The Self which is free from sin, free from old age, from death and grief, from hunger and thirst, which desires nothing but what it ought to desire, and imagines nothing but what it ought to imagine, that it is which we must search out, that it is which we must try to understand. He who has searched out that Self and understands it, obtains all worlds and all desires.'

Now when Kumarila Bhatta says that one who knows the self obtains "the eight perfections of Yoga", he's talking about the eight Siddhis or magical powers described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. So my question is, does anyone besides Kumarila Bhatta, i.e. anyone from the Vedanta school, believe that this Chandogya Upanishad verse refers to obtaining magical powers?

Here is what Adi Shankaracharya says in this excerpt from his Advaita commentary on the Chandogya Upanishad:

So that this - attaining of all regions and becoming the All-Self are the results.

And here is what Ranga Ramanuja says in this excerpt from his Sri Vaishnava commentary on the Brahma Sutras:

"The atman who is opposed to all that is defiling, free from old age, death, grief, hunger and thirst, who is of true desires and true will, is to be sought. He is to be enquirer into. He who realizes through meditation that atman after gaining the knowledge of that atman through scriptures, attain all worlds and all desires. Thus did Prajapathi declare." The eight qualities of the atman are mentioned. They are common to Jivatman and Paramatman. After concluding Daharavidya the Upanishath introduces here the Pratyagatma Vidya which is an accessory to Daraha Vidya. "Anuvidya" means after gaining vakyartha jnanam. Vijanati signifies dhyanam.

So both of these commentators interpret this verse as referring to attaining Moksha, not obtaining magical powers. But are there any commentators who agree with Kumarila Bhatta on this?

  • I think you have misinterpreted Kumarila Bhatta's commentary. A person who obtains Brahman, obtains all powers except those of Isvara. See Brahma Sutras 4.4.1-22, especially verses 8-21. The use of the word 'magical' in this context is not correct. My read of Bhatta's commentary are in accord with the Brahma Sutras, both Sankara's as well as Ramanuja's commentaries. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 23 '17 at 10:22
  • @SwamiVishwananda Well, Kumarila Bhatta, who we have to keep in mind did not believe in Vedanta, is saying that knowledge of the self has three purposes: usefulness for Yagnas, happiness in this life, and final deliverance. The Chandogya Upanishad quote is supposed to be an illustration of the happiness part, and then the next quote is supposed to be an illustration of the Moksha part. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 23 '17 at 13:27
  • Prof. Dr. Chandradhar Sharma sees Kumarila Bhatta, although a Mimamsaka, as a link between the Purva-Mimamsa and the Uttara-Mimamsa. Many of these later commentators of the Purva-Mimamsa "have regarded Mimamsa and Vedanta as forming a single system and who have advocated the combination of action and knowledge, known as Karma-Jnana-samuchchaya-vada. According to them, the sutras, beginning with the first sutra of Jaimini and ending with the last sutra of Badarayana, form one compact shastra." – Swami Vishwananda Apr 24 '17 at 10:58
  • and "Kumarila represents the transitional phase from the Mimamsa to the Vedanta and is responsible for giving rise to a series of Pre-Shankaraite Advaitic teachers of Vedanta of whom Mandana Mishra was probably one of the last." - from "A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy" by Chandradhar Sharma. My first comment stands. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 24 '17 at 10:59
  • @SwamiVishwananda Yeah, I agree that Kumarila Bhatta had some Vedantic ideas in his writings. But the quote is clear: "from such knowledge, we find that there accrues to the agents both kinds of result-Happiness as well as final Deliverance, as is shown by the following passages". The first quote is suppose to show Happiness, and the second quote is supposed to show Final Deliverance. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 24 '17 at 13:50

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